In just a couple of months of market presence, the 2023 Toyota Prius, especially in the Prime plug-in hybrid version, has established itself as the best iteration of the badge to date. Well, is anything missing? For one, the fourth-gen Prius breaks a decade of motorsport tradition, having left its Prius GT racing version behind. So you can understand our excitement when we came across this 2023 Toyota Prius GT racer digital project.
The fourth-generation Toyota Prius looks almost sporty, while the 220 hp and 6.6s of the Prime PHEV nearly match the numbers of the GR86. The driving dynamics are noticeably superior to the previous Prii regardless of the chosen version, while the new car also ups the ante in the efficiency department.
Despite Toyota having finally decided to invest more into EV technology these days, the automaker is also doubling down on its hybrid efforts. And, even though the Prius has now left markets like Australia, New Zealand, and the UK—blame it on the disappointing sales—it’s still a symbol of the hybrid work Toyota first brought to the market in the late 90s.
With that much to offer, the hopeless car enthusiasts that we are were eager to see the Prius GT racing version sooner rather than never. And a quick look at what the quirky racer stood for and achieved between 2012 and 2022 shows why it was relevant.
The Toyota Prius GT race car delivered a respectable decade of Super GT action
Developed and fielded by apr Racing (this is not APR, the Audi and VW tuner), raced in Japan’s Super GT series, grabbing a respectable number of podiums. No, it didn’t win any championship, but how could you not smile at the sheer sight of a Prius battling out with supercars in the GT300 sanctioned production vehicle class?
Of course, the Prius GT, which covered multiple generations of the road car and survived more than one regulation update, was not exactly the same thing you found in showrooms. Nevertheless, while it needed a tube chassis, carbon fiber body panels, and a mid-engined V8 layout—for most of its life—to fight its sharp competitors, Toyota’s dream still packed a hybrid system built using stock components… in a battle where Nissan fielded the GT-R and Lamborghini unleashed the Huracan.
Even when the rules forced the Prius GT to switch to a front-engined layout in 2019 for closer road car relations, the thing went from its predecessors’3.4-liter RV8K heart for a 5.4L V8 borrowed from the Lexus RC-F GT3. Alas, despite beating the Supra that entered the GT300 arena on rare occasions, this version wasn’t as competitive. As stated, the Prius GT is now a museum piece, having been replaced by a motorsport iteration of the Lexus LC500h earlier this year.
Toyota was ready to turn the 2023 Prius into a GT racecar and so was Apr
One might expect that Toyota has decided the Prius no longer needs a racing version, since the top iterations of the road car are sporty enough to make a point on their own. However, last year, Apr boss Hiroto Kaneso told motorsport that its mission to promote hybrid Toyotas had initially led to an agreement between the two companies that should’ve seen the 2023 Prius becoming a GT racer!
Alas, with the official release of the road car being repeatedly pushed back due to chip shortage issues and, as mentioned, the old car not being competitive, Apr was forced to choose another gas-electric model from the Toyota and Lexus stable for the 2023 season.
Aside from the fourth-gen Prius, there were two options: the Lexus RC, which already had a GT3 iteration, and the mighty LC that made it to the motorsport world in the end.
And, as much as we miss the circuit underdog that was the Prius GT, we’re glad its spirit has been arguably passed on to the car people can buy—compare this to the times when Toyota was drifting the impressive-but-not-dynamically third-gen Prius for U.S. commercials a decade ago and the progress is obvious.
Still, given how the new Prius has won the hearts of Americans, it wouldn’t surprise us to see quite a few pumped-up Gen IV Prii hitting the 2023 SEMA show (October 31-November 3). For one, the new model already received body kits in Japan, with these coming from in-house tuner Modellista.
2023 Toyota Prius 4th generation race car dream
And it seems the digital artist known as 722_modeling has set quite a high bar for anybody willing to come up with a 2023 Prius build. The artist, who is based in South Korea and has a thing for JDM goodies like this lifted 2023 Nissan Z rally car, has provided us with a set of renderings portraying a 2023 Prius GT race car.
The 3D creation is most likely based on the Prius Prime, as the retired race cars of the real world had the larger battery of the PHEV version despite a plug-in setup not being suitable for the racing format.
More importantly, this Gen IV Prius GT racer packs the kind of aerodynamic armor that would make Darth Vader jealous and the other drivers on the Super GT grid sweat—just imagine getting passed by this thing and having to explain you were one-upped by a Prius.
And thanks to that Castrol-dominated livery, the 2023 Toyota Prius GT CGI appears one step closer to reality.